Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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JULIA LIM

DIGITAL MARKETING ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

PARK HOTEL GROUP

How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been working in the hotel industry for about 11 years.

What inspired you to join the hotel industry, and the marketing department specifically? My educational background is in Communications. When I was pursuing my post-graduate degree, I realised I really enjoyed travelling and I wanted to find out more about the travel and hospitality industry. Interestingly, the first job I had was at Link Hotel – a block of HDB flats in Tiong Bahru that was converted into a hotel.

I thought that with my background, I would be able to contribute in the marketing department. But I soon realised that to communicate about the hotel effectively, I needed to learn about the various operations in the hotel.

What were the first few things you had to learn when you first started working in a hotel? I started off working in account management with online travel agencies (OTAs) and websites to build the hotel's online presence on their platforms. I liaised with these agencies regularly to review how well our offers were performing, ensured that we were featured on their promotion pages and press releases, and got updates on industry trends. That experience taught me more about online and digital marketing – how to generate leads and drive people to our website – and that was how I started in digital marketing.

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? The first thing I do in the morning is to look at reports to make sure that all our campaigns and communications are up and running. I’ll look at our online traffic to gauge how well our campaigns are doing and if we need to make any adjustments to improve their performance.

I also work on special projects. For example, we are currently implementing a mobile app at one of our properties that will allow guests to check in, access their guest rooms and control their room’s electronics from their mobile phones. I oversee the user journey of this mobile app to make sure that the user experience is as seamless as possible. Our team is also currently looking at implementing chatbots to improve guest engagement, satisfaction and productivity.

Have you always been interested in digital marketing? I only got into digital marketing when I was working with the revenue team. Our goal was to drive and manage revenue and hotel occupancy without compromising guest satisfaction, and I learned that digital marketing was a good way to communicate all the benefits of the hotel, attract more customers, and eventually increase the revenue.

But at the end of the day, it is just a platform. What helps to draw guests to the hotel is how we speak to them. For example, instead of just saying that “the hotel offers WiFi”, it’s better to say that “guests can enjoy high-speed unlimited WiFi across multiple devices”. Other hotels may offer it too, but how we communicate the benefit would play a big part in attracting guests.

What else do you enjoy about what you do? Firstly, I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the revenue numbers go up because of a campaign that I’ve worked on. Apart from that, I feel a sense of achievement when I receive positive feedback from our guests about our digital platforms. That acknowledgement makes all the effort worthwhile.

Do you get to have a lot of guest interaction? No. My role is mainly behind-the-scenes. But my team and I do analyse guest feedback, and some of us will reply to comments or feedback that the hotel receives.

One thing I’ve noticed is that some hotels use a template response. If I were to put myself in the guests’ shoes, I feel that what they want is a personalised response written just for them. That is why my team and I do our best to tailor our replies while providing guests with useful information for their next stay.

And we take feedback seriously! We communicate their feedback to the respective departments and try to make changes to further improve the overall guest experience. Once those changes have been made, we’ll update the guests, so that they know they’ve been heard and their needs will be met when they next visit our hotel.

How do you think you are able to contribute to the guests’ happiness at the hotel? My team and I are not based at any particular hotel; we visit different properties from time to time. Because of that, we are able to see things with fresh eyes and spot opportunities to improve the guest experience.

For example, one of our properties have put up many interesting local art around the hotel. And my team and I are currently exploring the possibilities of incorporating an art tour feature in the hotel’s mobile app that would give the guests more information about the art pieces as they explore the hotel.

What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? I’d tell them that if they like to make people happy, then this is the industry for them. People travel to be happy, and being able to contribute to that happiness – regardless of the part you play – is priceless.